Hello, I’m Vinch

And this is my website.

Chez moi c’est partout

07/19/15

Quand est-ce que tu rentres à la maison ?

C’est une question qu’on me pose souvent. Par “maison”, entendez “Belgique”, le pays où je suis né il y a presque 32 ans et dans lequel j’ai vécu la plus grande partie de ma vie. J’ai appris à ne plus réagir négativement à cette question. Ceux qui me la posent sont en général des gens qui m’aiment et qui souhaiteraient me voir plus souvent. En quelque sorte, cette question est donc un compliment. Leur problème n’est pas que je vive dans un pays autre que celui qui est indiqué sur la face avant de mon passeport, mais plutôt que je vive loin d’eux.

Cette question m’amène toujours à me demander si ce concept de mère patrie a encore du sens. Je suis Belge car je suis né en Belgique d’une mère Belge. Je suis également Italien via mon père. Si j’étais né au même endroit il y a 400 ans, je serais Espagnol. Si j’étais né au même endroit il y a 300 ans, je serais Autrichien. Si j’étais né au même endroit il y a 200 ans, je serais Français. Il n’est pas très risqué d’affirmer que je ne serais certainement pas Belge si je naissais au même endroit dans 100 ans. Le fait d’être Belge, Italien, Espagnol, Autrichien ou Français, ce n’est pas vraiment quelque chose que j’ai pu choisir. Il s’agit juste d’une conséquence de décisions prises par des chefs de guerre et des politiciens à un moment plus ou moins lointain dans le passé.

Earth flag

Le drapeau de la terre, le seul drapeau auquel j’arrive un peu à m’identifier.

Je refuse de laisser des décisions politiques du passé avoir une influence trop importante sur mon futur et la vie que je veux mener. En Belgique, on m’a toujours dit que pour réussir, il faut pouvoir parler le néerlandais. Je suis tout à fait d’accord, mais c’est uniquement vrai si on a une vision belge de sa vie. A l’école, j’ai toujours préféré l’anglais au néerlandais, non pas parce que la langue est plus belle (c’est subjectif), mais probablement parce qu’inconsciemment, je savais que ça m’ouvrirait plus de portes. J’apprendrai peut-être le néerlandais un jour, si je suis amené à vivre dans un pays néerlandophone. Par contre, si je garde une vision globale de ma vie, apprendre l’espagnol, le chinois, l’hindi, le russe ou encore l’arabe me semblent des options plus prioritaires.

Nous ne naissons pas tous égaux face à la vie. Certains naissent dans des familles riches et d’autres naissent dans des conditions de pauvreté extrêmes. On ne peut malheureusement pas faire grand chose à cela, à part espérer qu’on trouve une solution pour garantir une meilleure répartition des richesses. De même, avec une vision nationale des choses, on est désavantagé quand on nait dans un petit pays, car les perspectives sont plus réduites. Vivre dans un petit pays, ça devrait surtout permettre de s’échapper plus facilement. En Belgique, si on ne fait pas attention et qu’on loupe une sortie d’autoroute, on peut facilement se retrouver dans un autre pays sans s’en rendre compte.

Ma fille est née à San Francisco il y a un peu plus d’un an maintenant. Elle est donc considérée comme Californienne et Américaine car la règle du droit du sol est pratiquée aux États-Unis. Toutefois, de sang, elle est 50% Espagnole, 25% Belge et 25% Italienne. Légalement, elle a droit aux quatre passeports. Elle est ce qu’on pourrait appeler une citoyenne du monde. Mais n’est-ce finalement pas le cas de chacun d’entre nous ?

Depuis peu, tout s’est éclairci pour moi. Je suis né sur terre et je me considère comme un terrien. Je ne devrais pas avoir besoin d’un visa pour vivre sur un différent territoire de ma planète et je devrais pouvoir aller n’importe où en fonction de mes envies et des opportunités qui se présentent dans ma vie. Chez moi c’est partout. Et évidemment, ce qui vaut pour moi vaut pour tous. Essayons de détruire ces frontières que nous plaçons dans nos têtes et qui n’ont plus vraiment lieu d’être. Chez nous c’est partout.

More books you should read if you give a fuck about your health

06/23/15

In January of this year, I wrote an article about important nutrition books to read. Since then, I read more and I learned many new things. Here is the second part (and probably not the last one) of “Books you should read if you give a fuck about your health.

Food Rules: An Eater’s Manual by Michael Pollan (2011)

Food Rules: An Eater's Manual

I dedicated a specific article to this book. To summarize, it’s a great book and I really enjoyed it even though I don’t agree with everything.

The Drinking Man’s Diet by Robert Cameron (1964)

The Drinking Man's Diet

This book was first published in 1964 and sold more than 2 millions copies in 13 different languages. It is considered as the orignal low-carb diet. It’s a very quick read (30 minutes) and a very funny one too. Although I tend to minimize my alcohol consumption and wouldn’t recommend to drink that much, this diet seems to work because the author of the book died in 2009 at age 98.

Eat Bacon, Don’t Jog: A Contrarian’s Guide to Diet, Exercise, and What Actually Works by Grant Petersen (2014)

Eat Bacon, Don't Jog: A Contrarian's Guide to Diet, Exercise, and What Actually Works

Grant Petersen, author of the best-seller Just Ride, has also a lot of interesting things to say about nutrition. In a collection of short essays, he’s destroying all the false assumptions we have about food and exercise, backed by the latest scientific facts. Eat Bacon refers to the fact that saturared fat is actually healthy and Don’t Jog refers to the fact that short and intense exercises are more efficient than running long distances.

The Big Fat Surprise: Why Butter, Meat and Cheese Belong in a Healthy Diet by Nina Teicholz (2014)

The Big Fat Surprise: Why Butter, Meat and Cheese Belong in a Healthy Diet

When I bought the book, I didn’t really know what to expect. What I found is a deeply researched investigation to understand why we have been told so wrong about nutrition for decades, and why the very good foods we’ve been denying ourselves are actually good for us. Take a look at this video to have an overview of what happened in the fifties that led us to believe that fat was the enemy to fight.

Foodist by Darya Pino Rose (2013)

Foodist

Last but not least, Foodist is a book I greatly enjoyed. It is totally in line with my current lifestyle of enjoying delicious food without really dieting anymore. When I decided to take care of my health 18 months ago, I put myself on a very strict low-carb diet that made me lose a lot of weight in a very short time. Since then, as I feel great again, I just need to maintain my current health and eating only real food helped me achieve that goal. A diet is something temporary and cannot be sustained over a very long period of time because it requires a lot of willpower and that’s something I don’t have. Foodist is the best resource I found to stay healthy forever, because life should be awesome!

What I want to read next:

Do you have anything else to recommend? Thank you!

My review of “Food Rules” by Michael Pollan

04/13/15

I just finished reading “Food Rules: An Eater’s Manual” by Michael Pollan. This book is a list of easy-to-remember rules to eat better. The original version (2009) had 64 rules but I got the new version illustrated by Maira Kalman (2011) which has 19 additional rules. It could be the only book you read about nutrition, and it could really help anyone find the way back to health, while maintaining the pleasure of eating delicious food.

Food Rules: An Eater's Manual

The cover, beautifully illustrated by Maira Kalman.

The book is divided into 3 different sections:

  • What should I eat? Eat food.
  • What kind of food should I eat? Mostly plants.
  • How should I eat? Not too much.

The first section is all about eating real food (what you can typically find at the farmers market) and avoiding processed food containing weirdly named ingredients (what you can typically find in the center aisles of your local supermarket). The second section explains that vegetables are great and should not be considered as a side but as the main item of every dishes. The third section was a little erroneous to me. Eating less is more a consequence than a cause of being an healthy human being. By eating real food and avoiding sugar and carbohydrates as much as possible, you will progressively be less hungry, be satisfied with less and like me, go from XL to M.

Also, Pollan talks a lot about calories but there’s not a single mention of the fact that all calories are not created equal. In addition, he seems to consider whole grains as OK (read “The Wheat Belly” or “Grain Brain” to be convinced that it’s not really OK) and saturated fat as bad (read “The Big Fat Surprise“), but you can feel he’s quite confused about it. He doesn’t seem to understand why the French diet, rich in saturated fats, seems to work pretty well. His conclusion is that French people eat less, and that’s the reason why they are not fat. As I said earlier, this is just a consequence, not a cause.

Despite these weaknesses, I really enjoyed the book and would totally recommend it to people who want to improve their health with rules easy to follow and don’t want to hear about technical terms like lipoproteins, triglycerides and ketosis.

I give it a ★★★★☆.

To conclude, here are my 5 favorite rules (with my comments below):

  • Avoid Food Products That Contain More Than Five Ingredients
    It basically eliminates everything processed.
  • Avoid Food Products That Make Health Claims
    Your broccoli doesn’t have to say it’s gluten free and has low fat content.
  • Avoid Foods You See Advertised on Television
    Only big corporations can afford that, and big corporations don’t want you to be healthy, they just want you to buy their shit.
  • Eat All the Junk Food You Want as Long as You Cook It Yourself
    You’ll notice that you eat less fries and cupcakes if you follow this rule.
  • Treat Treats as Treats
    Occasional exceptions are OK as long as they stay occasional.

I hope you liked my review!